CBS Sports Aims To Save Lives With Defibrillators

By Ken Kerschbaumer

CBS Sports last month began a new program designed to make it easier for CBS staffers to respond to emergency medical situations that require immediate care. With the help of Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) units mounted in remote production vehicles CBS hopes that it can increase the likelihood of saving the lives of employees and others who might suffer a heart attack at the compound.

“When we’re setting up for a production we might be on site two weeks in advance of the actual production,” says Rodney North, CBS manager of environmental health and safety. “And the emergency medical technicians don’t show up at an event until the patrons arrive. So this will allow us to provide medical care prior to the start and after an event when we won’t have medical care provided nearby.”

The move has been in the works for nearly a year and came in response to two deaths in 2006. CBS Sports Technical Director Norm Patterson died of a heart attack in San Diego in January of that year while John Williams, who worked for BSI, died of a heart attack in September, 2006.

North says CBS has purchased 11 DDU-100 AED units from DeFibTech. The four-pound system is roughly 9×10 inches in size, about the size of a ream of paper, and costs $1,200. “It’s a practical size and meets U.S. military specs so we know it can stand up to the wear-and-tear that can be experienced on the road.” DeFibTech systems were also used during the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Torino, Italy.

CBS employees are being trained according to the Heart Saver AED course that includes learning how to use the unit and also covers CPR. “The one statistic that really stood out is that up to 75% of people treated with AED survive,” adds North.

The system removes a lot of the fear of attempting to treat someone. For example, once the pads are applied the unit monitors the person’s vital signs. “It won’t arm itself unless there is something wrong so you can’t administer the shock accidentally,” he says.

With CBS picking up the bill for the units (“it was too good to pass up”) North is hoping that others will follow in the network’s footsteps. “We would love to see others pick up where we left off and help get these units into all of the trucks,” he says. “You only have a few minutes to get someone’s heart back up and running and more than 400,000 people a year die from sudden cardiac arrest. If it saves one life this program is worth the cost.”